Millions of people fall victim to natural disasters worldwide every year. The culprits may be hurricanes, landslides, famines, droughts, extreme temperatures, or pandemics. But there is always one common factor: the aftermath, which affects everyone differently.
There’s a direct link between the natural environment and its effects on humans’ physical and emotional well-being. Victims experience anxiety and depression, acute and chronic disease, and an alarming increase in the mortality associated with the disease. They exhibit irritability, atypical headaches, insomnia, or in the worst cases, recurring flashbacks of the event accompanied by a general fear for the future. Emergency interventions, coping strategies, and countermeasures are required to alleviate these symptoms.
If you or someone you know are one of the disaster victims, here are several ways to help ease your way toward recovery.
Try to understand and process your feelings
Understand that any emotion you may feel during such hard times is valid. Your experience or reaction to the event may be similar or different to others in the same boat, but it never means your feelings are wrong. It is important to acknowledge that you were a victim. Only then can you open yourself up to a healing process.
Look for local support groups and people who share your trauma
Every big city or small town offers support groups for victims of various sources of disturbance. A crisis counselor usually guides these sessions. These are trained health professionals with postgraduate degrees in disaster healthcare and medicine.
The University of Tulane offers one such course for MPH Disaster Management to enable licensed individuals to mentor victims. Similar courses like MS in Health and Crisis Management, MPH in Homeland Security and Disaster Preparedness, and Emergency Healthcare Fellowships are available.
Such environments provide members with a safe space to help them open up and address their experiences without fear of appearing too weak. Moreover, listening to other people’s problems and the little things that help them cope makes it easier to devise a tailored strategy.
With the help of your counselor and fellows, you can attain a fresh outlook on the recovery process.
Establish a daily schedule to help you navigate through the day
Often, a strain on your physical or emotional health may cause hindrance in the way you go about your day. This undesirable disruption of routine activities can hamper normal function and the ability to juggle work and personal life. You may find it difficult to focus on seemingly easy tasks. You may lack concentration and find yourself unable to multitask efficiently. This might make you feel like trivial tasks are out of your control. It is advisable to categorize daily tasks by creating a daily schedule to follow throughout the day. In this manner, “checking off” chores will give you a well-rounded sense of accomplishment and help you tackle the problem better. By doing this, tasks are completed, and the uncertainty of what lies ahead is eliminated.
Engage in activities that make you feel better about yourself
Whether you reside in a flood-prone area or an earthquake belt, you understand better than none that the time following the event offers the bigger challenge. It is wise to look for an enjoyable activity during such difficult times.
If you are good at this sport, you can learn something new. It could also be as simple as starting a new book sitting on your nightstand for ages. You could take an evening walk to catch the sunset or end the day by using the family recipe to learn to bake or cook. You’ll have something to look forward to all day long. Anything that puts your troubled mind at ease is acceptable. Whatever it may be, ensure that the activity’s essence promotes a healthy mind and body. This will distract you from the problem and get you back on track toward a normal livelihood.
Adopt an overall healthy lifestyle
It is of prime importance to eat a healthy and balanced diet, get some daily exercise and early morning meditation, keep yourself hydrated and get adequate rest. These practices, amongst others, help combat the negative impacts of trauma.
Avoid falling prey to unhealthy coping mechanisms
Unhealthy coping mechanisms are common for people who find themselves lost after a major disaster. These include alcohol or drug abuse or resorting to self-harm. Even though these might seem like a good way to alleviate your restless mind, in hindsight, they only temporarily numb the pain. You unknowingly face away from addressing the real problem while it builds up to a much bigger intensity than initially.
Cut out other sources of stress
If you have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), you may respond irrationally to previously unlikely triggers. To combat this, try to limit your exposure to other sources of stress, big or small. For instance, avoid local and international news channels in global emergencies. Instead, switch over to a lighter entertainment channel. This practice can help you calm your racing thoughts.
Other than that, try to avoid revisiting pictures or accounts of the event that affected you in the first place. This will only refresh the wound, making its effects last even longer.
Find ways to be of service to others
It is human nature to gain an appreciation for oneself by helping others in need. You can volunteer at a local orphaned kids program or ask if an extra set of hands is needed at the local shelter for the needy. Any conventional or unconventional way that allows you to be of service to others will help you gain a better understanding of gratification and find peace with what you have.
Take a break for a while
Sometimes when the issue at hand becomes just too difficult to tackle, the best idea is to take a break from the daily chaos. Like anything else, the body and brain need rest to heal and properly function properly. Try to understand your needs, and let the journey take its course.
Do not hesitate to seek help
It is natural to box up your feelings following a disastrous episode. If your thoughts become too troublesome, it is necessary to seek help from a health professional or a trusted family member. You must have a good and dependable support system for humans to survive and thrive best in communities.
Furthermore, every country across the globe also offers a variety of helplines available 24/7 and easily accessible to all.
And remember, asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
The healing process after a traumatic episode is undoubtedly hard. But there is no problem too big to resolve and no wall tall enough to climb over and past. No matter what life brings your way, stay steadfast and practice perseverance. Remember not to compare your journey with another’s since the process looks different for everyone. Staying strong makes the return to normality inevitable.